Music On The Goe
David Goe on music
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By David Goe
Friday, October 17, 2014
All you really need to know about music and technology can be learned from The Buggles late 1970s hit “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Often remembered as the first video to be played on MTV, “Video Killed the Radio Star” demonstrated an important lesson that still holds true today. As technology improves and simplifies, it changes the way people interact with the world, music included.
There’s no need to dissect the lyrics of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” they are right there in the title. Video kills audio. Video is more exciting, more engaging and offers artists an even bolder creative avenue.
Thirty-five years after the single release, that same basic sentiment remains, only the emphasis has shifted online. Music videos no longer have a place on television, but they feature proximately on sites such as Vevo and YouTube.
Today, that is where bands are breaking, where the music conversation is had. It’s online on YouTube comment boards.
With that in mind, KAFM Community Radio is doing something radical this weekend. It’s throwing a Radio Room live recording party with the goal of capturing video and audio for several local bands. This content then will be handed over to the bands to post online for their own promotion.
Local bands Tight Thump, We Speak Imaginese, The Conifer, Dirtylektric and Lloyd Hutchinson will all perform Saturday night, Oct. 18, and all will leave with a finished product ready to upload and share with the online masses.
Dreamed up by KAFM Events and Community Outreach Coordinator Cash Kiser, this event provides a few lucky bands access to high quality video content that most likely would be unavailable to them. Despite technological advances, high quality video remains a luxury and is certainly out of the realm of possibility for most local bands.
The cost for the cameras, microphones and software is substantial, and that doesn’t include the knowledge to be able to operate all that gear. Luckily for KAFM and the bands performing Saturday night, Kiser knows his way around a camera.
As a local professional photographer and former film school student, Kiser is more than up for the challenge. The service he’s providing is an absolute necessity for bands now.
The Internet is flooded with DIY music, which in itself isn’t such a bad thing, but it makes it difficult for independent and emerging artists to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Capturing decent audio now can be done on just about any laptop or smartphone. The technology has gotten so good that virtually anyone can load their material online, muddying the airwaves so to speak.
Audio is no longer enough, but quality video can provide a band the boost it needs to be seen and heard.
Music videos have the power to launch a band from obscurity to the mainstream (The White Stripes’ LEGO video for “Fell In Love With A Girl”), define a decade (a-Ha’s “Take On Me”), or even become a cultural event (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”).
The band OK Go only exists because it mastered the art of viral marketing (see “Here It Goes Again” and “This Too Shall Pass”).
It’s a catch-22 for millennial musicians: a unaffordable necessity for inherently broke performers.
The local bands performing Saturday night will probably not leave with a “Thriller” quality video but they’ll at least have something that gets them on the playing field.
Kiser and KAFM are heading into unknown territory, but I like the direction. It serves the bands well and enforces the radio stations commitment and support to the local arts community.
By David Goe
Friday, October 17, 2014
The self proclaimed "Kenny Powers of music," In the Whale is a Colorado based band you need to know. Playing tomorrow night (10/18) with Guttermouth at the Mesa Theater and Club, In the Whale is a no-nonsense, two-piece rock band from Denver. Guitarist and vocalist Nate Valdez and drummer Eric Riley have been together since 2011, making balls to the wall music that's got the eastern slope of Colorado all riled up.
Thanks in large part to their sweaty, shout along live sets, In the Whale have featured prominently at the Underground Music Showcase and the Westword Music Showcase. Listening to their music it's easy to see why they've grown in popularity. Taking cues from bands like the White Stripes and Queens of the Stoneage, In the Whale plays in your face, nose bleed inducing rock and roll.
Check out their music above or better yet, see them live tomorrow night.
By David Goe
Friday, October 3, 2014
If music is art, and art is the creative expression of emotional power, then Tweedy’s new double album “Sukierae,” is a triumph.
Nothing I’ve heard to date, or likely will hear for the remainder of 2014, can or will match the emotional resonance of Jeff Tweedy’s latest work.
“Sukierae” is uncomfortably beautiful and promises the visceral response that, sadly, most contemporary albums never come close to achieving.
The Tweedy name should be immediately familiar to even the most casual music fan. The co-founder, lead singer, and primary songwriter of Wilco, Jeff has been a mainstay in the American music scene since the early 1990s.
Taking a break from Wilco, Jeff’s latest work is a partnership with his 18-year-old drummer son, Spencer, hence the band name Tweedy. Don’t mistake Spencer’s youth for inexperience or blame nepotism for his role in the band. He’s spent the last decade (!) playing in the Chicago band The Blisters and was recently featured on Mavis Staples’ 2013 album “One True Vine.”
Spencer more than holds his own on “Sukierae” and ultimately contributes mightily to the emotional heft of the album.
Taken at face value, “Sukierae” is a nice collection of songs ranging from country psychedelic to lullaby ballads. Buried underneath, though, are the emotions of a husband and a son dealing with the most serious of subjects. Jeff’s wife, Spencer’s mother, Sue Miller, is battling lymphoma and while the prognosis is optimistic, it certainly contributes to this album’s wide-ranging mood.
Knowing the inspiration for “Sukierae” (a combination of Jeff’s wife’s nickname, Sukie Rae) and knowing it’s a father and a son working through the material together is nearly heartbreaking. Part pop album, part art therapy, this album delivers the goods. Forsaking over-produced glitz for lo-fi musings on life, love and family, “Sukierae” is a surprise on many levels.
Through his work in Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, Jeff always has been a songwriter and performer who could connect with his fans on a deep level. With his quirky sense of humor and obvious skill as a songwriter, Jeff pulls you in and makes you feel part of something much bigger.
A good entry point for “Sukierae” is the lazy ballad “Wait For Love.” The wandering guitar work and Jeff’s breathy vocal on this standout track is classic Tweedy. Everything about the track is accessible, and when Jeff delivers the line, “I still want to look in your eyes today / And wait for love,” you can’t help but think that he’s speaking directly to you.
Other standouts include “Summer Noon,” “I’ll Sing It” and “Flowering,” all feel-good tracks. With those highs, though, comes the melancholy, specifically on “Nobody Dies Anymore,” “Low Key” and “New Moon.” It’s on these songs where “Sukierae” takes off, focusing on under-explored subject matter.
Each song feels fragile, particularly “New Moon.” Each instrument seems to be at war on this 3:39 minute track, illustrating the underlying and complex feelings both Tweedys must be feeling.
No matter the subject matter, Jeff knows how to deliver a line. The connection that he and Spencer share on the record moves well past the relationship between father and son. It’s two men managing a tough situation the best way they know how: though music.
You may hear music that is more exciting, experimental or even more enjoyable this year, but “Sukierae” will transcend them all. It’s not very often that music moves you beyond simple aesthetic beauty, but this album does the trick.
Underneath Tweedy’s effortlessly constructed pop songs is a mix of complex emotion that leaves a substantial mark.
By David Goe
Friday, September 19, 2014
Big news from the music world this past week was oligarchic rock band U2 sending out some junk mail in the form of its new album “Songs of Innocence,” to over a half a billion iTunes users.
If you have an iTunes account you have the album, whether you want it or not.
“Songs of Innocence” is neither a good album nor bad album. It merely exists like the male enhancement pill emails and magic weight loss emails in your spam folder.
The quality of U2’s latest release is not as important as is the bigger issue here. The latest in a disturbing new trend of stunt album releases (see Beyonce’s surprise album release), “Songs of Innocence” proves that big music has no interest in developing new music and is perfectly happy pimping tried-and-true music from well-regarded and established performers.
Big music doesn’t care about you or what you want. It cares about risk-free investments and guaranteed sales.
Big record labels such as Interscope and distributors like Apple iTunes are content making their nut on releases such as “Songs of Innocence.” Apple reportedly budgeted $100 million to buy and promote the album from U2 and Interscope, and committed over $9 million just on promotion.
Just let that sink in for a minute. $100 million dollars for one 11-song album.
It’s a staggering sum of money and it makes you wonder, is that money well spent?
The conversation online seems to center on the question: Is U2 leading the way to a new way of doing business? To answer unequivocally, hell no.
The only reason why U2 can pull off something like this is because they are the biggest band on the planet. Same goes for other performers such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, Radiohead, Trent Reznor and others who have tried similar release stunts. The entire release of “Songs of Innocence” feels gimmicky.
Let’s call this what it is, a pricey advertising campaign for Apple products. Releasing the album in conjunction with the new iPhone and Apple watch announcements at the tech giant’s annual keynote event does more for Apple than for the music industry.
Sure, U2 makes out pretty well, but what about the rest of the music industry? Last time I checked it’s still stuck in limbo with no direction, and I don’t see this move bringing it back from the edge.
Certainly, this stunt has got people talking, but the loudest voices are overwhelmingly negative. So much so that it has prompted Apple to create a specific web page with instruction on how to remove “Songs of Innocence” from your iTunes music library.
At the end of the day you have to ask, was it worth it? Publicity wise, yes, it was a hit.
As a music fan you can’t escape this story. But the whole event leaves you wanting more. When did music become a punch line? When did it become a tabloid headline? What happened to the bands and music that spoke for generations?
What happened to bands like the 1980s version of U2?
Music is more homogeneous than ever, there’s less variety than ever, and sales are lower than ever. And what’s the industry’s solution? Force-feeding the entire world an album people didn’t necessarily want? That doesn’t seem like a winning strategy.
The business model that helped U2 become the world’s biggest band is long gone. But instead of trying to figure out how to incubate the next great band, the industry has slipped into bed with Apple to hock smart phones and wearable technology.
That should make you upset. An art form that you bleed and cry for is dying at its soul and all we have to show for it is an ad campaign and a couple megabytes of hard drive space.
By David Goe
Friday, September 12, 2014
Believe it or not, fantasy bands are still trickling in to my email inbox. So far here are the lineups (including mine for comparison). There are a lot of interesting groups here including Brian's band Stanky Hoe's, which I'm guessing smells like the dumpster behind a Las Vegas strip club. Keep sending in you fantasy bands and I'll keep posting them for everyone to tear apart. Send your lineups to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gay Older Brother - my band
Flex - Dave Grohl $10
Bass - Paul McCartney $10
Guitar - Johnny Greenwood $6
Lead Singer - Debbie Harry $5
Drummer - ?uestlove $4
Baptism by Fire - Sent in by Doug
Guitarist - Buddy Guy - $7
Drummer - Neil Peart - $10
Bass - Tina Weymouth - $4
Flex - Angus Young - $7
Lead Singer - Roger Daltry - $7
Stanky Hoe's - Sent in by Brian
Lead Singer - Sammy Hagar $8 (vocal powerhouse, songwriter)
Guitarist - Steve Vai $7 (OK, he lost to Ralph Macchio in the movie "Crossroads", but he's practiced a lot since then, and still going strong)
Bassist - Michael Anthony Sobolewski $6 (maybe not the greatest bassist ever, but a key addition to this group)
Drummer - Topper Headon $5 (i needed a strong drummer and a hearty partier)
Flex - Gene Simmons $7 (he can market the band like no one before, and a is an excellent backup for when Michael Anthony gets too wasted)
Ellen DeGenesis Project - Sent in by Lindsey
Drummer - Phil Collins $8
Bass - Roger Waters $8
Guitar - St. Vincent $6
Lead Singer - Art Garfunkel $6
Flex - Nels Cline $6
Double Treble - Sent in by Mike
Lead Singer - Adele $9
Flex - Whitney Houston $9
Guitar - Les Paul $7
Bass - Kim Deal $6
Drummer - ?uestlove $4
Smoke Show - Sent in by Matt
Lead Singer - John Lennon $10
Flex - Willie Nelson $8
Guitar - Frank Zappa $7
Bass - Mark Hopus $3
Drummer - Stewart Copeland $7
Black and White and Black - Sent in by Trent
Lead Singer - Roy Orbison $9
Guitar - Jack White $7
Flex - Johnny Cash $7
Bass - Alex James $5
Drummer - Ginger Baker $7
Adult Onesie - Sent in by Keith
Drummer - Carter Beauford $8
Guitar - Jerry Garcia $8
Lead Singer - Sly Stone $5
Bass - Phil Lynott $7
Flex - David Bowie $7
Dregs of Society - Sent in by Taylor
Lead Singer - Iggy Pop $5
Guitar - J Mascis $6
Bass - Lemmy $8
Drummer - Chad Smith $7
Flex - Tom Morello $9
Michael Michael John John James - Sent in by Charlie
Lead Singer - Michael Jackson $10
Drummer - Michael Shrieve $6
Bass - John Deacon $5
Guitar - John Frusciante $6
Flex - James Jamerson $8